For me, there is just something so very comforting about the food of fall and winter. I’ve already mentioned in a previous post my affinity for my stock pot. Once the warmer temperatures of spring finally arrive, my stock pot finds a new home at the far corner of my cabinet. I call it the land of misfit pots. Miscellaneous lids. Special baking pans that don’t see the light of day. They’re put out of sight for a time. My stock pot will find its way there shortly, but I will fondly remember the warming bowls of soup, delicious applesauce, and homemade broth that found their beginnings in that pot. Until September…
Indeed, there are certain foods that are made seasonally for a reason. No one wants a pot of simmering soup on the stove in July, well, at least not here in the Northeast. No one wants the oven needlessly on when a heatwave is in full swing. In our home, the food of spring and summer is simple and quick to pull together. We live in a small home; when the oven is roaring or the stovetop has been called into work for the day, the warmth spills over into the entire lower level of the house. In the cold months of winter, this is a great thing, but not so much so during the hazy, hot, humid days of August.
So, today, with the temperature slated to reach into the upper 60s, I am reminded that I had better ask the family if there are any slow-cooked treats they want to sample once more before I change gears in the kitchen. I already know their answer: granola.
Making granola is super simple and so versatile. The flavor combinations are endless. Bagged granola is so expensive at the store yet so inexpensive to make on your own. Why not give it a try?
Our favorite recipe is one that was featured in Country Woman Magazine and now finds its home within the expansive recipes at the Taste of Home website. It was selected as one of the winners in a contest that was searching for homemade foods that make great gifts. While this does make a great gift, I’d have to go into stealth mode to covertly get some out of the house before the kids devour it.
You can add your own little twists to the recipe below. If you plan to add different nuts or seeds, do so at the beginning of the recipe and include them in the slow baking process. If adding raisins or other dried fruit, I’d recommend adding those elements after the baking is complete.
This is a delicious snack eaten on its own, a great topping for yogurt or ice cream, and a decadent morning cereal substitute. The picture below comes courtesy of Taste of Home.
Chocolate Cranberry Granola
1/4 cup mild olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned oats (not the quick cooking variety)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup crispy rice breakfast cereal
1 cup dark, 60% cacao, chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 250°. In a large pot heat the oil and honey over low heat until blended, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in the cocoa and vanilla. Stir in the oats, walnuts and rice cereal. Stir until coated.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the oat mixture evenly onto the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and stir the granola. Return the sheet back to the oven and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. The oats should be crisp, but not overly dark.
Transfer the oats to a large bowl. Immediately add chocolate chips and cranberries; stir until chocolate is completely melted
Return to the baking sheet, spreading evenly. Refrigerate until set. Break into pieces. Store in airtight containers.